Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Mother's Day in Nicaragua

 Tomorrow, in Nicaragua, is Día de Madre....Mother's Day.  It is a pretty big holiday. Schools are closed....which ironically makes a bit more work for mothers...go figure.

Today, at the kids' school, was the Acto de la Familia.  This is a celebration of family...it is Mother's Day, Father's Day (in June) and Day of the Children all rolled into one grand event.  The kids worked hard at putting together a performance for the parents.  There was a mix of dances, songs, poetic readings, and skits.

This year, Ella's class danced to a song from Sleeping Beauty and Noah's class sang along with a song that sounded like it was sung by the Chipmunks...but in Spanish.  Andrew said his class's dance was "too girly" and the boys all opted to be spectators rather than performers.  I suggested that perhaps next year that the boys should have a "sword fight" in honor of MOM.  He liked that idea.

Enjoy a couple of photos from the day.  (Since Jeff was at the university, I was a one-woman media crew...the video camera, my friend's camera (a teacher at the school), and my camera...needless to say, I only snapped a few photos).

Our Sweet Ella

Ella's dance partner "didn't show"... So she danced solo.
Noah...looking like a big kid!  So handsome!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Call Me Crazy, It Is Better Than Selfish

There are a hundred ways that I could write this post.  I think that it will end up being a stream of consciousness and pondering. 

Are you ready?

I think that God had a lesson planned for me this past week (and likely for the remaining weeks I am on this earth).  It was called, "Bethany, deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me."  I think the one thing that I've been realizing the most lately is the extent of my selfishness.  I am selfish. There, I said it.  Whether it is wanting to be better at Spanish than my husband (which I am not) or wanting to Facebook rather than read and meditate on the words of Scripture....selfishness abounds.  I think of how many times I get annoyed (and express that outwardly) because I have to put someone else's needs or wants ahead of my own.  I find myself yelling in my mind...but I have a "right" to want what I want...it is my "right" to have personal time, etc.   So many of my supposed 'needs' and wants get shoved to the background on a daily basis.   There seems to always be a choice between "self" and "self-denial".  Self-denial can look like: giving someone a ride when I'd rather not, welcoming in a 'sick pet' and its owner for Jeff to tend to, feeding a parrot (whom my youngest adores) who can't feed itself, delaying aspects of my own adjustment here so that my kids can be well adjusted, fetching various items that the kids need, being available to listen when I'd rather talk....the list goes on. 

Now before you all start emailing me and assuring me that personal and restful time is good and necessary...I am not denying that.  I know that.   God does give rest.  Psalm 23 promises that.  Jesus did go off by himself to pray.  But isn't the heart motivation behind all that...to be refreshed so that you can continue to serve others and sacrifice?  However, what I am seeing in my heart is a demanding spirit of my so-called "rights".   When Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24NIV), he was making it pretty clear that following him is a life of self-denial.  None of this is anything less than what Christ did and gave himself.  Does He give me rest and refreshment and fun times?  Absolutely.  But I think that those things are His provision and His care for me...they are not my "rights." 

Self-denial and following Jesus...these things sound crazy at best.  Yet, my faith compels me to pursue this...so, call me crazy, it is better than being called selfish.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Love One Another

"Surgery Saturday" at our house can be a little hectic at times.  We try to work like a veterinary hospital in the States, all smooth and organized, but the difference here is that we are only a staff of 3 (nurse, surgeon and receptionist),  and in the States, it was more like 10-12 staff on any given morning.  To compound the craziness, we are usually receiving 5-7 cats and dogs in a 30 minute window (we just extended it to 30 minutes for each species) and sometimes this is the first time that I am meeting some of the patients and clients, because some are traveling from a distance to get here.  So, in this short period of time I am meeting people, answering their questions, talking about the surgery, post-operative care...etc. To me, it feels rushed and hectic.  I would like to give each client an hour of my time (my co-workers in the States are reading that and smiling), but everyone is patient and talking amongst themselves as the cats howl and the dogs bark.

This past Saturday, as the day progressed and we were doing surgery, a veterinary student observed and asked: "I have noticed that the interactions between the Gringos that come here is very friendly and quick to happen even among strangers...is that typical of all Gringos in the U.S.?"  I thought for a minute as I remembered the waiting room in the U.S.  Of course there was the occasional extrovert and the receptionists were gifted in chit-chatting with the clients, but as a culture in general...no, it is not typical.  What is typical in the U.S. is short - polite greetings and then back to what you were doing...texting, staring at the wall or trying to determine if someone spilled lemonade... or is that urine on the floor...bad dog.  So, my response is "no".  But why is it different?  I am sure that part of it is that there is a sense of comradery amongst us because we are in a new culture.  And yet, there is a sense of closeness that is distinct compared to my interactions with other expatriates that  I know.  I think the difference is that we love one another.  For the most part, we are followers of Christ seeking to love one another.  We are far from perfect, but the drive to love one another, and do it better, was evident to this student.

John 13:35 "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Comrades In Arms

Last week we had the pleasure of 'skyping' with a group of kids from our beloved church in Delaware. These youth are very special to us. We appreciate them, in part because they are our friends, but as I (Jeff) reflected on what they really mean to us I thought of another reason why they are all even more important and valuable to us.

These kids are of immense value to us because they pray for us!  To be honest, when it comes to understanding prayer, I have more questions than answers, but boy am I glad that these kids are praying. In ways that I don't understand, they are a means of protection and encouragement for us.  And while, I don't totally understand prayer...I sure do appreciate it! 

Let me take this a step further and define what I mean by prayer; because in the American culture, prayer can mean: well wishes, good thoughts or hope for luck. These types of "prayers" are not the kind I mean. I'm referring to real, Biblical, Ephesians 6 kinda prayer – spiritual warfare kind of prayer.  These kids put on the full armor of God and engage in battle on our behalf.

To our young comrades in arms that pray for us -- we thank you for engaging in battle for us, for fighting with us, and having an effect in the spiritual and physical worlds on our behalf. You've got our back and we need it and we feel it. Thank you for praying, and please “be persistent in your prayers” Eph. 6:18 (NLT)

Our Comrades

Friday, May 4, 2012

Where Your Treasure Is

I (Jeff) had an experience today that was special.  I would rob it of some of its specialness if I blogged about the details.  And, if I wrote one line to start the story, I would have to write 10 pages to do it justice.  So why bring up something that I am not going to bring up?  Well, because a tangential aspect of the story, was that it was one of those experiences where I wondered "what would have happened if we were not here?...if you were not helping us to be here?"  Well, as to how it would have unfolded in a nuts and bolts practical way, I don't know.  What I do know, is that I would not have had the joy of being involved in the story.  I would not have been gracefully humbled and forgiven.  I would not have shared tears of joy, relief and praise to God with my new friends in Christ.

             Some of the Beauty of Nicaragua

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Parrot, The Letter A, and A Guitar

Three random things.  A little view into our life.

Noah has been praying for a parrot for nearly a year and a half.  He asked for a parrot and was given the answer..."Noah, you can certainly pray for God to give you a parrot."  So, Noah would pray..."God, please hurt a parrot's wing and make it fall into my yard."  Well, on Friday of last week, one of the guards in our neighborhood, brought to the "vet", a baby parrot who had fallen out of its nest in a very tall tree in our neighborhood.  The parrot had broken its beak.  Jeff removed the broken beak, leaving the parrot with only the bottom beak and 20% of its top beak.  It is recovering in a cage in our living room.  I feed it 4 times a day through a syringe.  The parrot's name is Junie B. Noah is quite pleased that God answered his prayer for a parrot.

Junie B, The Beakless Parrot
This afternoon, Andrew started guitar lessons.  Not earth shattering news, I know.  However, Andrew's teacher speaks Spanish.  It is surreal to hear Andrew asking questions and learning how to play a musical instrument in Spanish.  I'm not sure when this sense of surrealism will fade for me.  Regardless, I am glad that Andrew is learning to play guitar...maybe he'll learn some Spanish serenades!

Noah's homework today was to cut and glue into his notebook pictures of things that start with the letter A.  My mind immediately thinks of things likes Apples and Alligators.  Noah immediately said:  Avion (plane),  Árbol (tree), Abeja (bee).  A-mazing